Dale is a senior that is wheelchair bound and will soon be discharged from the hospital. He doesn’t have a lot of support at home, and because of his disability, his immediate concern is not being able to get his pants up on his own after toileting. Accompanied by his OT, Whitney of Spalding Rebah PSL, and her OTA student, Dale, they toured Accessible Systems’ adapted show home and explored various bathroom accessibility solutions. Here are the 4 steps to make toileting graceful and independent for seniors, the disabled and those with a handicap.
1. Toileting Height
Customizing your toilet height is step one of toileting for seniors, the disabled, the handicapped, and anyone with mobility challenges. If you are standing and sitting, the height of the toilet is very important. The most common toilet height is 13 inches. A taller toilet can make standing up and sitting down so much easier. Newer toilets are ADA height or 15-16 inches. Also, you can add a porcelain insert called a toilevator underneath the toilet (red arrow in image) to add 3.5 inches more or add a elevated toilet seat for 5 more inches. A Bidet can also be added for easy cleaning, warm water, warm seat, and other luxuries. Bidets can replace the seat on any toilet. They do not require a second seat or a transfer. Most Bidets do need a power outlet close to the toilet.
2. Shower Chair/ShowerBuddy
A second step to make toileting an art, is consider a rolling shower chair that rolls over the toilet. They are made at the correct seat height to roll over the toilet, and eliminate the transfer to the toilet. They have a cutout in the seat that is open so you don’t have to move from the rolling chair. These chairs can also roll in to the shower for bathing and cleaning. The ShowerBuddy has the advantage of connecting to a bathtub or shower and allow the seat of the chair to slide into the tub or shower.
3. Overhead Ceiling Lift
During the visit, Dale was educated on the SureHands ceiling lift with the Body Support system. This overhead lift setup is great because it grips in just the right places when lifting: Under the thighs and under the arms. It mimics the arms placement and gentle lift provided by a caregiver. Best part is that it can be operated independently.
The OT demonstrated the use of the ceiling lift from a bed while Dale looked on.
It was then Dale’s turn to test the SureHands ceiling lift out, from his wheelchair. This required some extra hands during the initial trial run, which is common.
A sling variation was then attached to the ceiling lift. The goal was to find the best solution that would help Dale toilet independently, while remaining comfortable and painless.
4. Bedside Commode
Most health care professional will recommend a bedside commode, which is like having a plastic toilet in your bedroom. Bedside commodes are helpful but typically a last resort. A bedside commode is made of a steel or plastic frame with a bucket under the toilet seat.
Art of Toileting Summary
In all, the show home tour, the education about the various toileting solutions, ceiling lift systems, and the actual trial runs took the group just over one hour. The end result? Dale found his ideal body lift and transfer solution and left with a smile under his mask, and newfound reassurance that he’ll be okay on his own once he gets home from the hospital.